Claiming Caliban

Topics: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Colonialism Pages: 2 (728 words) Published: November 13, 2013

Claiming Caliban
The Tempest is a play written by famed playwright, William Shakespeare. The play begins with a ship caught in a dangerous storm. The ship is carrying the King of Naples and his attendants. Frightened, the people on the ship prayed for safety. The ship eventually wrecks. On a deserted island not too far away, the main character, Prospero, is introduced. Prospero used to be the well-respected Duke of Milan, but was betrayed by his brother, Antonio, and Alonso, the King of Naples. Antonio stole Prospero’s dukedom and exiled Prospero and his 3-year-old daughter, Miranda, on a deserted island. Prospero is attempting to carry out his plan of revenge by using magic to conjure up a tempest to wreck the ship. Caliban is the son of Sycorax, a witch who used to rule the island before her death. Caliban is portrayed as the evil island native who is currently serving as Prospero’s slave after attempting to rape Miranda. Caliban begins to despise Prospero and Miranda and creates a plot with two of the king’s attendants to murder Prospero and rule the island for himself. Prospero finds out about this and Caliban promises to work hard to get back on Prospero’s good side. The play concludes with Prospero a duke again, while Caliban is forever enslaved. Many scholars suggest The Tempest was written with underlying political opinions of colonialism, namely the way that the English colonized the New World. The play ironically premiered two years after England colonized Virginia in 1609. Prospero's attitude to the island is similar to the attitude of a colonizer. He arrives at the island on accident and finds native inhabitants of the island and eventually enslaves them. Caliban, an enslaved island native, represents the oppressed Native Americans upon England’s discovery and rule of the New World. Prospero sees Caliban as genetically inferior, incapable of being civilized. “A devil, a born devil, on whose nature Nurture can never stick…” (Shakespeare) Like the...
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